Former Lyft driver just arrested for sex assault that happened years ago

- A former Lyft driver is now behind bars for allegedly raping a female passenger.

That incident happened two-years ago, and advocates believe the city's rape kit backlog is to blame for the long wait.

“The Austin Police Department has made two arrests in the past week of transportation network drivers for sexual assaults,” said Interim Chief Brian Manley.

One of those assaults was allegedly done by former Lyft driver Angel Interial back in 2015.  He was arrested just Monday.

The other one was allegedly committed by former Ride Austin driver Osmani Limonta-Diaz, back in June of this year.

He was arrested last Friday,a much quicker turnaround with DNA lab results.

“What you're seeing is the effects of the changes we've made,” said Manley.

In the Lyft case, it was July 10 when a woman caught a ride home after a night out downtown.

Police said Interial raped her in the backseat. She quickly reported it, and Lyft said they dropped Interial from the driver database.

It would be two whole years before results came in and matched the suspect. 

Advocates say APD's rape kit backlog is the reason why it took so long.

“The backlog is a public safety issue. A lot of survivors are really concerned that this might happen again to someone else, that's often what's weighing really heavily on them,” said Aja Gair, senior director of community advocacy at S.A.F.E. Alliance.

Manley says since they closed the lab last year, they've outsourced rape kits to three other labs and DPS is helping process kits.  Now, current cases can expect as quick as a 60-day turnaround.

“Since we closed the lab last year we have submitted 2,985 kits for processing and we currently have 1095 kits that are awaiting submission for processing that are part of the backlog,” said Manley.

Manley said to clear out the backlog, they've brought in four cold case unit detectives to investigate sex crimes. That is what has helped process the backlogged Lyft case.

“We are really pleased to see APD taking steps to get this resolved,” said Gair.

Authorities are making strides, and organizations like the S.A.F.E Alliance just hope the police can ensure swift justice for any cases in the future.

“We still have a lot of people waiting to hear what's going on in their cases. That kind of uncertainty is just not right,” said Gair.
 

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